Monday, November 4, 2013

Explaining to our children preferences, convictions and distinctions among brethren WITH GRACE

     Let's face it, Christians differ on a number of matters, and that often or perhaps i should say sometimes for good reason! It is customary to call such differences 'secondary issues' (interpretation differences like paedo baptism vs credo baptism, differences in liberties like teetotalism vs moderationist as concerns drinking alcohol etc) , so as to make the point clear that there are bonafide God-obeying, Christ-exalting believers who differ on subjects which don't negate their standing as believers, despite the reality that some of these issues are still very important! 

The sticky part is how to explain such differences to our children, how to gracefully disagree with others while maintaining the unity of the brethren, being free of slander and not leaving the impression upon our children that our convictions on the matter reveal our superiority over those lukewarm if that, church-goers.
Seek wisdom in this, seek to be careful and clear in this and learn from leaders who model such unity while maintaining their stands, lest we raise mean-spirited, arrogant and elitist Pharisees!
With that said I will offer some EXAMPLES of what NOT to do (they are of course comical exaggerations and straw-men  so please don't get offended, lol),

Halloween participating child, 
"Mommy why don't those kids dress up?"
"Well, sweety long time ago in Salem there were these witch hunters and....."

Halloween abstaining child,
"Mommy why do those kids dress up?"
"Well, sweety I guess they like worshiping the Devil..."

"Dad why do they send their kids to public school?"
"Hmm, apparently they love the world and want the world to raise their children.."

"Dad why do they homeschool their kids?"
"Hmm, apparently they think monks and nuns are a good thing...."

Child of a moderate participant in alcohol, 
"Mom, why can't they have a small glass of wine with their dinner?"
"Baby, they follow the laws of men instead of God...."

Child of a total abstainer from alcohol
"Mom, why do they drink beer and wine?"
"Baby, they must not care about what the bible says about drunkards....."

Child of a credo-baptist,
"Dad, why do they pour water on babies?"
"O, they like the Pope, think the water magically washes sin away..."

Child of a paedo-baptist,
"Dad, why don't they baptize their babies?"
"O, they like the abortionists, don't want their babies saved..."

Child of a Israel supporting dispensationalist,
"Mom, why don't they support and work for Israel?"
"Hun, WWII might be over, but I guess Nazis are still around..."

Child of a Israel neutral convenantalist, 
"Mom, why do they focus so much on the land and people of Israel?"
"Hun, they think people are are saved by blood not faith....."

Hehe....brethren, laying aside the extreme cases, let us be wise in explaining to our children differences among the true body of Christ!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Don't WASTE your homeschooling!

It goes something like this, 'Are you a homeschooler?' "Wow, me too!' and there you have it, two peas in a pod right? Not exactly, such an association might only describe where two parents don't send their children and that might be the only thing those two parents have in common. The point, is that the differences abound not only in structures and curriculums but also in worldviews, and so I hope to sound somewhat of a clarion call to fellow homeschoolers in order that their opportunity might not be 'wasted', the opportunity of having more time, more control over what specifically influences their children!
Here then is a choppy list of some things we must not neglect,

Don't waste the ample time you have been afforded by neglecting to teach and to share the gospel with your children frequently, for they desperately need to hear it until they come to faith, and they desperately need to hear it frequently after they come to faith. A great many pitfalls will be avoided and a great many extremes nullified if by consistent exposure to the gospel, your children are convinced that they are great undeserving sinners in need of God's grace, and that if in anything they stand apart from others around them, it is due only to the grace of God within them!

Don't waste the ample time you have been afforded by neglecting to pray daily with your children, to teach them to turn to and to depend on God, to teach them that their teachers (parents) desperately depend on the help of God. Prayers of thanks will teach them that all blessings truly flow from God, prayers of intercession will teach them to compassionately desire God's grace to be given to other people, and prayers of repentance will teach them to humble themselves before God and strive towards holiness!

Don't waste the ample time you have been afforded by neglecting to teach your children sound doctrine. A biblical worldview demands first a familiarity with the scriptures, and a reasonable ability to interpret scripture (hermeneutics). What a shame if they master fields in academics and yet are ignorant of the attributes of God, of the doctrines concerning salvation, of the doctrines concerning the church etc!

Don't waste the ample time you have been afforded by neglecting to teach them the importance of the local church. It is good and well that children learn to submit to their parents and especially their fathers, but if that is where it ends then that is not biblical. This is why a healthy church is so important, because they need to be in a place where they see the whole family involved and submitted, as God has designed, to a local church led by men approved by God according to the scriptures. Parents must humble themselves in this matter, showing by example what it looks like to honor the elders of the church, and what it means to love the body which Christ died for!

Don't waste the ample time you have been afforded by neglecting to shape and refine the very character of your children. Just finishing the work and making 'the grade' is not enough, for you their parent must notice and deal with their attitudes as well. Confronting and disciplining sinful attitudes as well as training them towards good attitudes is something you have been uniquely called to do by God, from humility, to diligence, to truthfulness, to compassion, to sincerity, to gentleness, to self-control etc are such that by God's grace you can instill in your children!

Don't waste the ample time you have been afforded by neglecting to challenge your children towards excellence. Exhort and help them to hone their natural gifts and to grow in the areas they are weak. Don't allow them to simply cop out and give up, but call them to strive (within reason) towards excellence. For instance, after they take a test, review with them the wrong answers and seek to help them think through what and why and how they got it wrong (not to alter the test, but to challenge their thinking).

Don't waste the ample time you have been afforded by neglecting to instill in your children the necessity of discernment. I suppose this comes naturally when it comes to a subject like evolution vs creation, but think of the blessing of applying such a discerning eye towards all subjects. They need to be trained and shown by example, to discern everything, all claims of truth, all forms of media etc by the word of God, to read everything, asking first, 'What saith the Lord?'!

Don't waste the ample time you have been afforded by neglecting to show them that all matters of life and learning are matters of worship. If one subject is most mockingly brought up as being incapable of holding anything other than a neutral place concerning God it is math, but strange as it may sound math is but one more reason to worship the Lord! For the very order, the consistency, and absolute nature of math is but one testimony to the order, consistency and absolute nature of God, His ways and His truth. Every history, every biography, teaches us something about worship, either the worship of the world or the worship of God and the consequences and the blessings of such.

9. JOY
Don't waste the ample time you have been afforded by neglecting to love on them, pour affection on them, and show that you enjoy them for the sake of their joy. They must be convinced that all their striving, that all their work, that all their obedience is not a means to receive your love, but something they do because they know they are loved. Spend 'off' time with them, talk to them, have 'heart to hearts', have special days with just them, play with them etc. Children are indeed a blessing from the Lord and He calls us to raise them which includes showing affection towards them, let us then be resolved to see them in such a  counter-cultural way by God's grace!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A multitude of mercies

This is a sermon I preached 2 wks ago to God's people..........a quite unconventional survey sermon (for me) which I hope at the least would whet the spiritual appetite of God's people to further their understanding of the freeing and moving love and grace of God found in Jesus Christ!!!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Keeping children in the service, why and how

A brief case for and help towards, keeping children in the church service...

I write this post not to formulate a new law in which to bind men, but I do write fully convinced that it is wise, good, and fruitful to forgo separating children, youth and adults by having separate 'church' services. However I'm not writing to present a case for a family-integrated model, for I'm not suggesting there should never be times where say in classroom settings (Sunday school) that children or youth are specifically targeted, but I do believe such should certainly not take place during the Lord's day service. I'm also not saying that if a church does this then they are unhealthy or apostate and should be abandoned (don't bother responding if you take it that way, for or against). With that said there are some who do what i think is quite unique, for some encourage the parents to engage the children on what they have learnt or 'picked up' from the sermon, while some churches like Paul Washer's church in Virginia, actually address the children with a separate short message and then preach to the whole congregation (with children present). I'm not so much addressing the 'nursery' either, though I still think it's unnecessary, although a 'crying room' lol (where one can briefly if able, can calm or change or feed their baby etc), might be helpful.

Here then is some food for thought (It would be nice to convince some, but more importantly, maybe more realistically, lol, I wish to support those who have decided likewise)

Preaching should be central on the Lord's Day, for God has given such 'gifts' (Pastors etc, Eph 4) to equip the saints, yes the 'preaching' of the gospel must be heard and is indeed a means of grace which the Holy Spirit uses to move men to trust, cherish and obey Christ.

*since preaching is so vital, necessary and powerful, we should not limit it's reach nor help in assisting others to miss out on it (which happens not only for the children, but for all the 'helpers', all the 'teachers' and even IF there's somewhat of a rotation there's always a few volunteers who rarely, if ever, get to sit under the preached word and receive this vital grace {and that quite contradicts what most believe about preaching}), unfortunately it's the most vital parts of worship (typically preaching and the ordinances) that are missed (or interrupted) because of the unnecessary extras we add to the Lord's day

*i contend that having children present would be in keeping with the scriptures (since children would have been present during the service) and with a grand majority of church history....and one would be hard-pressed to argue a case from scriptures that such should be done

*children hear more and understand more then we believe, and ESPECIALLY more then most presently believe (of course we can always do things to help them learn to listen better)

*parents are called to teach our children in the 'fear and admonition of the Lord', and it certainly makes sense to teach them (even IF they don't 'get much out of it') that there is something unique, something distinctly separate (holy) about the Lord's service, about the sacraments, preaching, and prayer etc, and that unfortunately has been lost for far too many in our day (as opposed to church simply being a fun, interesting, playtime)

*children love to imitate, and if they are challenged (i know it's considered 'old-fashioned') to grow in maturity, to be trained towards adulthood (another lost goal of our day) it would do them good

*it seems quite hypocritical to expect children to sit and listen to a teacher in say school (if u do that) but not to teach them to sit and listen to the word preached. Perhaps some would object saying 'But that's geared towards them, they can understand it', well then what if they can't understand? are they allowed to walk out? Better yet if an adult family member begins to talk to them (and u know some that don't do the gaga language, but speak a little 'over the head' of the child) would you be fine if you child walks away, since they don't 'get it'? I hope you would consider that rude, well then should not the Lord receive much more attention?

HELP!! Assistance in teaching children to sit quietly in church:
(this is NOT expert advice, but some things we have found to be helpful in teaching/training our 7 boys to sit quietly in church)

First things first, here then are some reasons why NOT to teach them to sit quietly in church:
*don't do it for self, to be seen or as a sign that you belong to an 'elite' class of super-parents
*don't do it because it shows your children are holy and others are not, for they are but restrained little heathens who desperately need the grace of Jesus Christ
*don't do it without a conviction concerning the importance of the Lord's Day, don't simply do it to make some statement

Now then, let me suggest a few things that should help:
*a good example: children NEED to see you yourself display a high regard for the uniqueness of the Lord's Day
*much prayer: plead with the Lord for help in doing this, and plead that the word might be effectual towards them
*train! Discipline disobedience, but first TRAIN them (at home) how to obey, regular family devotions where the children are required to sit and listen is of first importance, and perhaps additional times where say a parent sits the children down and are read a story (explain what's expected of them: paying attention, no side chat etc) and quickly and consistently discipline them when they disobey (a quick smack, a flick, etc)...yes children need free time and playtime but they should not be given the freedom to always chose when they decide to listen or show respect etc
*light discipline during service, (if needed..hahahaha), not saying if they fidget or something (age can come into an extent), but purposely being distracting, loud, rude etc (quick flicks are good), and maybe there's some times where u need to deal with them in a bathroom (BUT, if for some reason it seems quite unwise, lots of people,lack of opportunity etc......then assure them such WILL be dealt with at home or when you get in the car, but be sure to follow through so not to teach them that you are bluffing, one parent may be better at remembering then another...but don't let it go because a short time has passed) ...remember we are obeying the Lord in applying the rod, and we do so for the good of our children
*sometimes it might help to engage them during 'hey remember that story' 'did you hear that name' etc
*often it helps to remind them of the expectations BEFORE you get to church (knuckleheads need repetition)
*encourage and compliment good behavior, while being careful not to teach them that they have accomplished some 'good works' (giving children the gospel frequently will help fight that tendency) nor allowing them to compare themselves with other children ('well, son i don't know about them, but God has called YOU to obey ME and that's what we need to worry about .....thankfully I've not had to correct that kind of sinful question yet)
*a little ingenuity might help in calming and quieting babies and toddlers, trying to gauge feeding times better, trying to learn how to bounce them, and if all else fails 'o well' just carry them for a while or step out if they're acting possessed :)
*a LOT of patience and endurance as well, (hoping for the best, but expecting the worst), with some it might be quicker, and with others WHOA, it might take some months (but don't give up....cling to those convictions, keep the goal and proper motive before your eye....and by God's grace keep on keeping on)

Well that wasn't anything revolutionary, and certainly it wasn't exhaustive but I do hope it's helped someone out there........and i do hope nothing was misunderstood, grace and peace.

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